American Elephants

The Democrats’ Insane Lightbulb Ban Approaches! by The Elephant's Child

The big lightbulb companies, GE, Phillips and Sylvania, are showing off their new LED bulbs. The GE Energy Smart LED Bulb does the best to imitate the features of a conventional incandescent bulb, including brightness and lighting angles.  Since it is based on light-emitting diodes, rather than a heated-up filament, it will use only one-fourth of the typical power  of an incandescent bulb to put out 450 lumens— the brightness equivalent of a 40-watt incandescent bulb.

GE expects its LED bulb to last 17 years—or a 25,000 hour life—if run for four hours a day, every day.  And the GE Energy Smart LED Bulb fits normal incandescent sockets,  which is a nice touch for anyone who is worried about having to rewire their whole house.

There is “one little drawback,” they are expected to cost $50 each. What? I expected this to be bad, but this is unbelievable. The brightness equivalent of a 40-watt bulb? They are replacing a 100 watt incandescent bulb with the brightness equivalent of a 40 watt bulb?  I don’t even use many 60 watt bulbs.  Let’s see,  I need 9 bulbs for my kitchen, 4 for my bedroom, 4 for my bathroom, and that’s $850 without considering the living room, dining room, the study, and the other bedrooms, other bathrooms, the front hall, and the outdoor lighting.  Just last year LED bulbs were being quoted to cost $80—at a minimum.

What do I want with a bulb that lasts for 17 years? You could buy a bulb for a baby gift, and then give the kid another when he graduates from high school.  Sylvania expects that two-thirds of all consumers will consider switching over to a non-incandescent for future lighting purchases. Well, yes, since you fixed it so that we have to buy your product that clearly is not ready for prime time.

U.S.Federal lighting efficiency standards come into effect January, 2012, which mandate a “gradual” phasing out of incandescent bulbs over a two-year span. 100 watt bulbs go first, 75 watt bulbs are scheduled to be banned in 2013 and 60 and 40 watt bulbs in 2014.  In return I get a 40 watt bulb that will last for 17 years (they say) or I can have twisty CFL bulb that takes forever to warm up, gives nasty light, may explode or catch fire, must call the hasmat crew if I drop it, and when it burns out I’m supposed to drive all over town to find a place that will recycle it without charge.

Look at the picture— those baffles or whatever they are on the sides are supposed to imitate the lighting angles of an incandescent bulb. LED bulbs don’t spread their light naturally. The baffles mean they won’t fit a lot of fixtures. Neither kind of bulb—CFL or LED—is a satisfactory replacement for an incandescent bulbs.They have trouble putting out warm color temperatures, the warmer the temperature of an LED bulb, the less efficient the bulb is. Does that mean even less than 40 watt?

No wonder GE Sylvania and Phillips wrote the bill banning incandescent bulbs. Nobody would buy their damn bulbs if they weren’t forced to. We’ve had a lot of claims about energy savings, and I don’t know of any one that has measured up. Claims for insulation do not measure up. Claims for insulated windows don’t measure up. Energy Star appliances don’t measure up. But we’re supposed to believe their claims for lightbulbs enough to spring for $50 a bulb?

Bob Karlicek, the director of the Smart Lighting Research Center at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute thinks the price can be brought down to $10 eventually. He also said “it’s not necessarily clear to people in the lighting industry that LED chips were ever meant to go into a bulb.” What’s really needed, he said, is a new approach to lighting.  Oh.

You apparently had three separate companies colluding to get a government mandate to help rid them of  their high-cost incandescent factories, undoubtedly union factories, and send their bulb operations to China where they can get bulbs made for pennies.  Were they sure they could come up with a satisfactory substitute in the allotted time? The bulbs on offer do not seem to be satisfactory substitutes in any way.

The governmental idea that people will drive to bulb recycling centers and pay to recycle their CFL bulbs, is nice, but people will just put them in the garbage.  The government has offered a $10 million prize for an energy efficient replacement for the 60-watt bulb— another proof that this all started with “energy saving” which is necessary—not to save you money on your light bill, because it probably won’t—but to keep fossil fuel fired electricity plants from emitting CO2.  I will refrain from my usual rant about how utterly insane (incompetent) this is.

And we will soon need a new federal program to help the poor buy lightbulbs.

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